Regardless of how intelligent and emotional pigs are, humans still raise them as livestock and treat them in less than humane ways. This paradox lies in contradiction with a number of assumptions we hold about the world we share with our fellow creatures (Fudge). In spite of a popular concept of a pig as a filthy, mechanical being, scientists know pigs are capable of complex emotions and thoughts.
The domestic pig belongs to the genus Sus, as classified by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. There are approximately 2 billion domestic pigs on the planet; they are remarkably social and intelligent animals. One of the first animals to be domesticated, domestic pigs can be made to perform any number of tricks and tasks. They are commonly raised for meat (or pork) as livestock and for leather. Inconsistent with popular perceptions of pigs, it is actually the case that the pig’s sensory life is filled with a mass of information, requiring the animal to interpret and filter it quickly in order to deal with the world. Quite acute, the pig’s sensory inputs include highly adept senses of sound, sight, touch, olfaction, and taste. Despite having a relatively poor sense of sound, pigs use verbal communications in a quite advanced way. Auditory signals and vocalizations convey complex sets of information between pigs, such as the sender’s identity (Held, Cooper and Mendl 48). For example, piglets recognize the grunts of their own mother. Like their sense of sound, pigs do not have a particularly strong sense of vision. Poor visual acuity and color discrimination in pigs suggest vision is only a secondary sense as the pig seeks out food.
The domestic pig’s sense of touch is far more acute than either its sense of sound or sight. Pain, by definition, functions to bring attention to specific areas of tissue damage to protect an area of damage. There is a difference between short- and long-term pains; the